Digital Single Market
Digital Economy & Society

Action 97: Promote the internationalisation of internet governance

The action aims at promoting the internationalisation of internet governance and global cooperation to maintain the stability of the internet, on the basis of the multi-stakeholder model.

On February 2014 the European Commission presented its Communication on Internet Policy and Governance: Europe's role in shaping the future of the Internet. This document outlines the foundation for an EU strategy on global internet governance based on a multistakeholder model and underpinned by human rights and democratic values.

What is the problem? The internet can not be regulated on a national basis

In the last decades the Internet has profoundly changed –– the way in which we work, live our lives, interact amongst each other and our public authorities, besides and beyond mere economic considerations. The Internet has proven to be a huge driver of change– sometimes disruptive change – and democracy principles in almost all areas of life such as business, education, health, transport.

The Internet has become a "General Purpose Technology" and a basic and essential element of any all citizen’s life. The internet is at the heart of seamless cross border services and the ‘internet economy’ in the EU-28 is expected to grow from 3.8 % of GDP in 2010 to 5.7 % in 2016

As for many of the policy actions in the Digital Agenda for Europe (DAE), progress can only be made at international level. Internet is inherently a global and cross-border phenomenon. Hence, given its strategic importance international cooperation is crucial in order for the European Union to fully reap the benefits and address the challenges of the Internet environment, which include cyber-security threats, cyber-crime, cross-border legal disputes, censorship, market concentration, freedom of speech and respect of human rights.

The European Union fully endorses the basic principle that the governance of the Internet should be inclusive, multi-level and multi-stakeholder. When it comes to the Internet everyone, from all social and economic groups and from all parts of the world, should have the possibility to have his or her voice heard in a fair and constructive manner. However, this does not imply that governments and other public authorities can or should relinquish their role in developing and enforcing public policy. There is a clear case for a limited and focused public intervention, on the Internet as in any other field of human life.

Why is EU action necessary? International cooperation is essential to keep internet as a global infrastructure

· EU action is necessary on two levels. The first is purely European and it touches upon economic, political and social dimensions. EU policies ensure developments of a European Internet economy, in line with the strengthening of a true Digital Single Market; align policy-making activities to the realities of bottom-up, peer-produced political changes; use the Internet to foster social inclusion, including via digital social innovation.

· The second is global and touches on spheres like ensuring respect of human rights, promoting net neutrality, addressing cyber-criminality, creating a credible IPR regime and working on a global legal framework especially for e-commerce. In this framework the EU is a major player in constructing and supporting the internet governance.

· The European Commission leads by example in providing regulatory solutions based on equality of opportunity, transparent government and governance and markets that are open to competition. It promotes and supports an open and inclusive Internet governance and has pioneered legal frameworks in several fields, such as eCommunications, audiovisual, electronic commerce, privacy/personal data protection.

What has the Commission done until now?

In its international engagements for internet governance, the European Commission has been one of the key players throughout the World Summit on the Information Society (2002-2005) and actively contributes to many of the action lines that followed it.

It is also a member of the Governmental Advisory Committee of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) and, while supporting the principle of bottom-up, consensus-based policy-making for domain names and "Internet numbering resources", it has also consistently pushed for ICANN to strengthen its accountability, independence and transparency framework, so that ICANN can truly be a globally accepted model for multi-stakeholder governance of the Internet.

The Commission supports the functioning and the growth of the Internet Governance Forum (see action 98) and is a sector member of the ITU. It is also active in many other international bodies and fora in which Internet-related policies are discussed and/or decided, such as WIPO, WTO, OECD, Council of Europe and EuroDIG.

Within the EU, the European Commission monitors the transposition of a number of key legislations related to the Internet, such as e-commerce, eCommunications, consumer protection, privacy/personal data protection, resilience of networks and fight against cyber-crime, and network neutrality.

The European Commission is working together with the other EU institutions to promote and uphold a no-disconnect strategy.

On February 2014 the European Commission presented its Communication on Internet Policy and Governance: Europe's role in shaping the future of the Internet. This document outlines the foundation for an EU strategy on global internet governance based on a multistakeholder model and underpinned by human rights and democratic values.

What will the European Commission do next?

The European Commission will:

  • support the establishment of a coherent set of global Internet governance principles, consistent with fundamental rights and democratic values, with all stakeholders;
  • engage with stakeholders to:
    • strengthen the Internet Governance Forum,
    • clearly define the role of public authorities in the multistakeholder context,
    • facilitate issues-based multistakeholder dialogue and decision-making acrossorganisational boundaries.
    • identify how to globalise the IANA functions, whilst safeguarding the continued stability and security of the domain-name system;
    • establish a clear timeline for the globalisation of ICANN, including its Affirmation of Commitments.
  • contribute to further strengthening the sustainability of the multistakeholder model by making actors and processes more inclusive, transparent and accountable.
  • launch the technical development of the Global Internet Policy Observatory (GIPO) as a resource for the global community;
  • encourage all stakeholders to strengthen structured mechanisms to allow regular, early and truly inclusive participation, review and comment in technical decisions.
  • launch an in-depth review of the risks, at international level, of conflicts of laws and jurisdictions arising on the Internet and assess all mechanisms, processes and tools available and necessary to solve such conflicts.
Progress Report
Status: On track Eddy HARTOG Eddy HARTOG